Tășuleasa Social Association
Via Transilvanica (VT) is a 1000 km trail unique in Romania. The already set up sections are described in a guide: the trail is divided in daily hikes, recommending sleeping and eating options in villages along the road. Civic Europe funding will allow the training of locals: 27 people from 9 rural communities crossed by VT will become 1-day-guides. They will get communication and hospitality skills needed to introduce visitors to traditions, history and culture specific to every VT community.
9 small rural communities in Bistrita-Nasaud county, northern Romania
VT crosses regions with impressive natural landscapes and multisecular heritage, but these places are also civic deserts: small rural communities face ageing population, rural flight, lack of civic initiatives, of democratic engagement and of economic undertakings. VT is a real reinvigoration opportunity, but setting up the physical trail is often not enough: local communities must be aware of the trail and its significance; adults need to engage in maintaining the trail; they need to develop a sense of belonging to VT and to acquire skills that will help them relate to the tourists on the trail: show hospitable behaviour, know how to deliver information about local culture, make travellers from anywhere in the world feel welcome in a Romanian traditional village open to the world.
Being part of travellers' itineraries, local individuals will spread information, but also integrate the tourists’ storytelling, helping create emotional attachment to their place and community. Democracy and local active citizenship are stimulated because training raises awareness among participants about their own community and heritage, but also about the significance of VT and the extraordinary opportunity this trail represents for their small village. Training will take place in our campus, in 2 weekends: first, participants will understand VT concept and values, and will be required to get info about their village; then, tourist guides simulations will take place within a hike on a VT section. Participants will get a sense of belonging to VT and understand the dynamics of the trail.
Direct beneficiaries: 27 persons from 9 villages in Bistrita Nasaud county, selected upon minimal criteria (age over 18; residence in the village), but also criteria such as diversity and inclusion (gender balance, different ethnic and social backgrounds etc.). They will represent the voice of each village; community ambassadors, available for any traveller seeking help or support.
Indirect beneficiaries: 29452 inhabitants from the 9 villages included in the project and 1000 tourists crossing annually these villages on VT, after the project is concluded and trainings are delivered.
Even though this project idea is basically a pilot, reaching just 27 people from 9 villages, we aim at scaling it up in the future and extending it to all the rural communities (about 130) reached by VT.
Activity 1 (A1): Project management; 5 months (M1-M5)
A2: Preparing an open call, defining selection criteria for the locals interested in becoming one-day-guides; communicating with local communities and travelling there to announce the call and explain the project; 2 months (M1-M2)
A3: Selection process, communication with the selected participants and practical arrangements for the trainings to be held in the campus Tășuleasa Social 1 month (M3)
A4: Organization of the trainings (2 trainings/ 27 persons/ 2 weekends) and feedback collection from participants 2 months (M4-M5)
A5: General communication and dissemination about project activities; creation of a brand and visual identity for the project, as well as a promotion strategy for Civic Europe visibility; 5 months (M1-M5)
27 individuals from 9 rural communities will have received training in our campus, becoming one-day-guides for VT visitors. Their communities as well will have attained a higher degree of awareness, sense of belonging to VT, civic engagement and sense of local citizenship. Our communication with these communities, including local authorities, local companies and other stakeholders will have improved. Tourists reaching these 9 villages while travelling through VT will have found at least 3 contact persons in each village, making them feel welcome and informed. The general audience of Tășuleasa Social, on national and international level, will have been informed about the project, increasing the chances of scaling up on larger level this first pilot of VT local ambassadors.
VT is iconic: it strengthens engagement and local citizenship in each village, while also giving a sense of belonging to a greater idea, above individual and local levels. VT is a unifying context for communities around Romania, for travellers from all over the world and - via Civic Europe project - for host communities with their visitors. Romanian society is polarised; public discourse creates feelings of division (we vs.them: young people vs. old people; ultra-orthodoxes vs. laics etc.). In a painfully divided society, suffocated by hate speech and extremism, VT brings an incredibly simple and strong cause, with huge potential of getting people and communities united around it. We do believe our project idea illustrates the essence itself of the ”united in diversity” European ideal.
TășuleasaSocial is one of the most influential Romanian NGOs; our flagship project is VT. Over the years we’ve organically built a strong network of volunteers and enthusiasts. Thousands of participants in various projects have built emotional connection with ”Tășu” (as they call us), with our values, and have tender memories from our campus, activities and atmosphere. We strongly believe that this is precisely what VT needs in order to be more than a physically set up trail: a human connection that tourists find along the communities. Experience has shown that in our campus, within dedicated training, we can form this human resource: merging individuals from the rural communities in the ”Tășu” atmosphere, state of mind and values, and enabling them to pay it forward to future VT visitors.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Costs for implementing the training
13.000 EUR (accommodation/meals/courses/trainers)
4.000 EUR travel expenses
2.500 EUR volunteers costs (they will assist beneficiaries and the implementation of trainings)
2.000 EUR office supplies
3.000 EUR (recruitment and communication)
4.000 EUR branding, design, photo, video
3.000 EUR promotional and give away materials
3.000 EUR overrun costs
We would like to receive feedback containing networking opportunities and ideas which could help us scale up the project to the whole VT trail. General feedback about how such a project is received and perceived on European level would be also really useful.